My Wife & Kicks
Adrian Daniel is a youth pastor, freelance photographer, sneaker enthusiast and father of three hailing from Whangarei. Adrian inspires youth lives daily in work for his local church and is an incredibly talented content creator, collaborating on projects with international brands and making his name in the sneaker community as the creator of, My Wife and Kicks, a dedicated sneaker blog. Adrian sat down with Gather writer, Dalong Ye-Lee, a fellow sneaker enthusiast to chat about his work and how he started…
Background + work
You’ve established yourself out there as the mastermind behind My Wife and Kicks and for your role at church in youth work. Tell us more about yourself and your journey leading to today.
I was born in Cape Town, South Africa and grew up living there for 15 years until my family decided to move to New Zealand. I settled in quite quickly and lived a pretty normal teenage life in east Auckland. After finishing high school I studied a BCom at The University of Auckland and loved it, and during my time at uni I was involved with a local youth group though a friend.
I never grew up as a Christian nor went to Church, but I always believed there was a God that existed. The atmosphere and involvement in the youth group really connected with me and it was through this experience that I really met God for myself, seeing him change and transform my life. Over time I saw my priorities, what I valued and what I wanted to do with my life slowly changing. I had witnessed my life being impacted significantly as a young person, and I wanted to see other young people’s lives change in the same way. As I got stuck in serving at a Church and Youth Group, this passion grew into a part time job and it was here I felt I had found my calling.
About six and a half years ago I was asked to move up to Whangarei for a position in leading the youth team up here. On a week to week basis my role involves leading and mentoring young people, preaching, MCing and running social media for the Church. It’s a pretty varied role and I really enjoy what I do!
Fashion and Sneakers
So through all of your travels, education and work life where does fashion and your passion for sneakers take its place for you in the big picture?
I guess I’ve always had an interest when it came to fashion. I remember I was about eight or nine in primary school and after school one day my dad came home with a pair of Levi’s Jeans and a Stussy T shirt for me. I was like, these- are the BEST pair of jeans I’ve ever had. From that moment on, I refused to wear anything else but Levi’s, I sorta had this little collection of Levi’s Jeans through primary school which was kinda crazy!
Skateboarding was always a part of my life and it was a culture I found myself immersed in. With that came skate shoes and various other interests in skating. It all started with chunky Globe and Etnies skate shoes, I remember having the Chet Thomas Pro-models and some éS Kostons as well. One day I was looking for a new pair of skate shoes and stumbled across a pair at a local skate store; Chad Muska’s third pro-model Supra Skytops in a black nu buck. I googled them, looking for more pictures and found them on the cover of a magazine called Sneaker Freaker. I discovered their website and forums and was intrigued- even buying a copy of their magazine! When I received the magazine I was blown away to see a price guide at the back of shoes selling for more than retail price.. and it blew my mind that there was this whole community of people who were passionate about sneakers!
I began looking for some of the old releases, collaborations and pairs I was seeing in the magazine. I found the inspiration and stories behind Nike Skateboarding kicks fascinating and began hunting for them, finding Nike SB Space Jams sitting on sale at Cheapskates (Auckland). I guess here is where my hunt for sneakers and the entry into the sneaker game began. I then discovered a community of different people called NZ Sneakerheads (now Sole Central NZ).
I’d seen the New Balance ‘N’ on the sides of shoes not really knowing what it was. I eventually discovered New balance through the Jeff Staple x NB White Pigeon collaboration. From there my love for New Balance began, I appreciated what the brand was about, being confident in who it is in making excellent shoes, rather than trying to be something it is not or following the hype. They still make shoes in England and USA, making the best shoes they can regardless of price, often more low key and understated. This is where I am now, with most of my interest in NB.
Photography and Turning Point in Sneakers
It’s incredible to see how a passion for something can be sparked by such a seemingly minor happening! Where did your love for photography come from and how did this tie in with sneakers?
Over time I had seen some great pictures out there of sneakers. At one point my wife had just received a Canon 550D for her birthday so I had decided to pick the camera up and have a go, teaching myself how to use it. I got into Instagram as it was pretty fresh back then and created a blog as a place to post high quality photos. One day I was in the lounge and “My Wife and Kids” was on TV in the background and I thought hey, I’ll call the blog “My Wife and Kicks!”. I initially thought the name was real corny and that I’d change it at some point, but it stuck!
I was at an event at a skate store called Co-Lab in Britomart, Auckland. I was heavily into NB at that point and ended up in a conversation with Phillip Bell (DJ Sir-Vere). He was surprised to have met somebody as passionate about NB, which was rare then. Phil passed me onto Kevin, a sales rep at NB and we started to connect via email. This was the turning point in sneakers for me. Over time Kevin invited me to events, I was able to meet people at NB and got collaborating with events such as Pac Heat where I’d had my own collection on display.
Having moved to Whangarei from Auckland, what changes did you experience in the move and what comparisons can you draw between the difference in your lifestyle?
Obviously Whangarei is much smaller than Auckland, with roughly 90,000 people in the wider region so the retail experience is definitely different. You don’t get any boutiques or local sneaker releases up here so being a part of the sneaker community involves shopping online and creating relationships down in Auckland getting people to assist with releases or travelling down where I could, such as at Qubic Store.
The culture up in Whangarei is a lot more slow paced, and people are more interested in beaches and outdoor activities which really appeals to me. Living up here is cool because I love skateboarding and surfing. The cost of living is also way cheaper than in Auckland so it’s a bit of a bonus when raising a family.
You seem like a man of many talents, what would be your best advice for being able to juggle all of your hobbies and interests alongside family?
It’s exactly that, [laughs] it’s always a juggle! I have a wife, two kids, and another on the way, a full time job, my work with My Wife and Kicks and social media. I always try to be fully present in all that I do, whether it be family or connecting with people and through work and photography.
It’s a matter of identifying what needs attention and when, never at the expense of my family or my priorities. It’s being okay to pull back when needed and push forward when you have the capacity to.
Bonus sneaker question
Which sneaker silhouettes are your favourites of all time, and which sneakers so do particularly take a lot of interest in?
I love the simplicity in design of 80s era sneakers. I like the aesthetic which is simple and understated, especially runners in grey. I feel 90s sneakers got a bit crazier in design and colours which I’m not really a fan of. The NB 1300 is my favourite, a stand out pair, they have been manufactured in several places including the USA, UK, Korea and even Ireland. The NB 1500 is another favourite, mainly the pairs made in USA and England; These shoes have quite a bit of history behind them. I love the NB 99X series, such as the NB 991 and NB 990 and other models following. I really have an appreciation for the Nike Air Max One among other models. In general 80s runner are what I do.